A Real-Life Love Potion

p2291_column_grid_12There’s a somewhat common fairytale trope involving a creepy idea: One character wants another character to fall in love with them, so they create a love potion. Usually the potion is applied at the wrong time and hilarity ensues.

As it turns out, there is a real-life equivalent to a fantasy love potion. No, it doesn’t involve Sex Panther cologne. All it takes is a little psychology.

Columnist Mandy Len Catron writes about the concept in this NY Times article. She read about a study conducted 20 years ago in which psychologist Arthur Aron got two complete strangers to fall in love with each other.

Ethical implications aside, he accomplished this through two steps:

  1. The people asked each other a series of 36 questions (examples below).
  2. The people stared into each others’ eyes for 4 straight minutes.

The questions have a pretty broad range. I have no idea how Dr. Aron figured out these questions, but I really like them:

  • Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  • Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  • When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

Remember, these are questions you’re asking a complete stranger. And they’re capped off by looking them directly in the eyes for 4 minutes. Can you think of the last time you looked someone in the eyes for over 3 seconds?!

So, there are a few ways of thinking about this study. One is the interesting concept that you could fall in love with anyone. I doubt this means literally anyone–like, if you’re not attracted at all to the other person, I doubt that would work. But still, there’s an element of hope in it to me. Maybe we don’t have to find that one special person out of 7 billion. Maybe all we have to do is ask the right questions.

The other way of looking at this is kind of scary: If this thing really works, what if was used to manipulate people? I’m not sure who would do that, but what if Dr. Aron had paired up people who didn’t know what the experiment was about? What if they were already married to other people?

The last thing I thought was: This might make a really neat reality TV show. Sort of like dating naked, but with raw emotions instead of lack of clothes. I’d watch the pilot episode.

What do you think? Is there someone with whom you’d like to test out this modern love potion?

4 thoughts on “A Real-Life Love Potion”

  1. Interesting. I wonder if married couples will fell love in more after asking each other questions like these. I kinda want to try this. I’m going to hunt down a cute guy and will report back in a few months!

  2. I will try this if my GF agrees.

    I think that you can’t really do this for nefarious purposes – you must know something is going on when you ask those Qs and are told to stare into each others’ eyes for 4 minutes.

    If a married person tried this and fell in love with someone else, ruining their marriage, maybe they shouldn’t have been married and would have had a divorce sooner or later anyway.

    Personally, I don’t think that love needs to be given to only one person. Both because of the various types of love – this could just be a way of deepening the bond between friends! – and also because I personally don’t believe that romantic love should be exclusively between 2 folk. But that’s a longer discussion, I suppose.

    • Behrooz: Good point about the married people. I think these are great questions for a couple who is already together–let me know how it goes! I like the idea that this method could be used to deepen any relationship.


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